Waves of the Future
Five to ten years from now, Kelly hopes “to see a strong focus on diversifying the profession. When we have a diversity of practitioners, we are able to have a diversity of thought and opinion,” she says. “This is what makes for equitable, dynamic ways of thinking. Interior design specifically is human-centered. The practice is about creating unique experiences for people through the built environment. Empathy, agility and an open-mindedness are enhanced through diverse perspectives — most likely crafted from diverse experiences and backgrounds.”
Moreover, “diversity within the profession allows for the opportunity to understand people more deeply and design environments that are more inclusive and impactful,” she says. To foster diversity in both the present and future, ASID offers programs such as Ones to Watch, which gives designers from underrepresented groups mentorship and leadership training. “When we see those people grow into leaders, it inspires a future generation of designers and lets them see themselves in the profession in a whole new way,” Kelly says.
As for how designers already established in their careers can remain competitive in the future, “understanding the latest research and using evidence-based processes for your work is going to become increasingly important,” Kelly says. “Every year, we publish an “Outlook and State of Interior Design” report that provides insights not just on design trends but on economic indicators, future-focused research and other big-picture trends.” She believes that looking at developments beyond the design world can inspire new solutions that people might not even have realized they need, and she points to healthcare and technology solutions as likely being major growth areas for designers.
Talking Tech and Environmental Sustainability
Technology has had a huge positive impact overall on the design industry, both in terms of business solutions and design practices. But it “has also increased competition and DIY design,” Kelly says. “In order to avoid becoming a commodity, designers need to promote more of their creativity, expertise and unique value.”
Continuing education plays an important role in developing that expertise designers can promote to grow their careers, Kelly believes. “For example, materiality and the impact on the environment, and the need for designers to stay current with regulations, trends, and changing market and business practices is an evolving conversation that successful designers remain on the pulse of,” she says.
The first part of that evolving conversation, having a positive impact on the environment/planet, is in fact part of ASID’s mission and is “crucial,” Kelly says. “We have found in our research that all companies need to rethink their operations and their environmental impact.… [Organizations] will want more information about sourcing, supply chain, methods of delivery and life cycle. As designers, we have an opportunity to make this more seamless for them in our work — another value proposition we bring to the table.”